Uppsala University Library

Waller's Manuscript Collection

Waller's collection of manuscripts is one of the greatest autograph collections in history. It consists of original handwritten manuscripts first and foremost of doctors and scientists, but also from the fields of arts, philosophy, politics and inventors and discoverers from all corners of the world. The time span covered in the collection is from the Middle Ages to the 1950s.

The Waller Collections

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38,000 documents

The collection is named after Dr. Erik Waller (1875-1955) and was acquired by the University Library in 1955. There are 38,000 items. These are mainly letters, but there are also reports, lecture notes, medical prescriptions and consultations and much more. At the time of Waller's death they filled 79 wooden crates. These wooden crates were delivered to Carolina Rediviva where they remained virtually untouched for the next 50 years. The sheer quantity of documents deterred all attempts to make them accessible. 

International and freely available throughout the world

It was not until the year 2000 that the Library, with initial funding from the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and later with support from Uppsala University, that thorough work on Waller's collection of manuscripts could be started. Today all the manuscripts have been catalogued and scanned and the database is available on the Internet. Thus Dr Waller's autograph collection has been made freely available for research the world over.

Waller sorted his documents according to country and thereafter in alphabetically order according to their author within each geographical area. The Library has chosen to retain this system even though it can lead to problems since it does not always reflect the divisions in the modern world.

In addition to the country based collections, there are also other subcollections, for example the Album Collection and Waller's own correspondence. Searches can be performed in all the subcollections in the online catalogue for Waller's Manuscript Collection.

See an overview of the subcollections in Waller's Manuscript Collection.

Treasures and insights into the daily life of yesteryear 

A great number of celebrities are represented by their own handwriting in the collection. For example:  
Torbern Bergman, Olof Rudbeck, Carl Linnaeus, Emanuel Swedenborg, Anders Ångström, Tycho Brahe, Nils Bohr, Immanuel Kant, Johannes Kepler, Wilhelm Röntgen, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, James Cook, Ambroise Paré, Louis Pasteur, Marie och Pierre Curie, Nostradamus, René Descartes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Jean-François Champollion, Daguerre, Napoléon and Gandhi.
But there are also many documents of considerable historic and scholarly value written by people who are less well-known today, possibly quite forgotten. Yet this  is a significant aspect of the collection's greatness, its breadth and its reflexion of the mundane doings of science in a time long past.

Some of Waller's treasures

The Section for Manuscripts and Music is happy to assist you with your searches. You can request a document and study it the same day, here in the Special reading room in the Library.

Contact

E-mail: ask.library@ub.uu.se
Phone: 018-471 39 00
twitter: @fragauub
Phone and chat available weekdays 9-18.